I've been spending the morning trying to figure out exactly what finally transpired at last week's WIPO General Assembly meeting. Thanks to Gwen Hinze at EFF and Robin Gross at IP Justice, it has now become clearer – the hard work of our NGO and corporate partners has paid off. The General Assembly voted to convene a Diplomatic Conference (DipCon) in November/December 2007 if and only if certain “outstanding issues are resolved” in two meetings of the Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights (SCCR), scheduled for January and June 2007. Those “outstanding issues” include the very controversial technological protection measure (TPM) issue (which requires member states to ensure that any TPMs broadcasters use to protect their signals cannot be circumvented) and the question of whether certain Internet retansmissions should be covered. This raises for the first time the possibility that there may not be a DipCon if agreement on these issues cannot be had.
Second, and more important, is the General Assembly's decision to narrow the scope of the treaty to one that protects against signal theft rather than one which would give broadcasters a new exclusive intellectual property-like right in their signals. How this new approach is applied will be the main task of the 2007 SCCR meetings.
As always, the devil will be in the details, so we won't be having any premature celebrations. But this is certainly the best news we've had out of WIPO in quite some time.